Trial Aftermath: Accounts of "Retributive Justice"
The Martyrs: A Sketch of the Lives and a Full Account of the Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith by Lyman O. Littlefield (Salt Lake City, 1882)(Chapter XIV)

The grave of Joseph Smith, Jr. in Nauvoo, Illinois


The following appears in the Autobiography of P. P. Pratt:

"A man named Townsend, living in Iowa, near Fort Madison, was one of the mob who assaulted and forced in the jail door. The pistol discharged by Joseph Smith wounded him in the arm, near the shoulder, and it continued to rot without healing until it was taken off, and even then it would not heal.

"About six months after he was shot, Mrs. Lawn saw his arm and dressed it. He was then gradually rotting and dying with the wound. He stayed overnight with Mrs. Lawn' s father and groaned through the night without sleeping. He asked the old gentleman what he thought of Joseph Smith being a Prophet. He replied that he did not know. 'Well,' said Townsend, 'I know he was a Prophet of God! And, oh, that I had staid at home and minded my own business, and then I would not have lost my life and been tormented with a guilty conscience, and with this dreadful wound, which none can heal' He died two or three months afterwards, having literally rotted alive.

"James Head, of McComb, was also one of the murderers at the Carthage jail; he was heard by Captain Lawn and others to boast of it afterwards, and Captain Lawn drew a pistol and chased him; but he ran away. He was always gloomy and troubled from the time he helped to murder the Smiths, and frequently declared that he saw the two martyrs always before him! He had no peace.

"A colonel of the Missouri mob, who helped to drive, plunder and murder the ‘Mormons,' died in the hospital at Sacra­mento, 1849. Beckwith had the care of him; he was eaten with worms-a large black-headed kind of maggot-which passed through him by myriads, seemingly a half pint at a time! Before he died these maggots were crawling out of his mouth and nose! He literally rotted alive! Even the flesh on his legs burst open and fell from the bones! They gathered up the rotten mass in a blanket and buried him, without awaiting a coffin!

"A Mr. -, one of Missouri mob, died in the same hospital about the same time, and under the care of Mr. Beck­with. His face and jaw on one side literally rotted and half of his face actually fell off'! One eye rotted out, and half of his nose, mouth and jaw fell from the bones! The doctor scraped the bones, and unlocked and took out his jaw from the joint round to the center of the chin. The rot and maggots contin­ued to eat till they ate through the large or jugular vein of his neck, and he bled to death! He, as well as Townsend, stank so previous to their death that they had to be placed in rooms by themselves, and it was almost Impossible to endure their presence, and the flies could not be kept from blowing them while alive!

"Wm. T. Head, an officer in Captain Lawn's company, and tarrying in Carthage, testified that he saw a certain man raise a large knife to strike off the head of Joseph, when, all at once, and in the midst of a clear day, with no cloud in sight, a ter­rible clap of thunder rolled heavily, and forked lightning flashed in the face of the murderers, and perfectly paralyzed a number of them.

"'The ruffian, who had raised his knife and had sworn with a dreadful oath to take the head off Joseph, stood perfectly par­alyzed, his arm uplifted with the knife suspended in air, and could not move a limb. His comrades carried him off, and all fled in terror from the scene."

Elder Jas. H. Moyle, writing from the Southern States, in August, 1881, says:

"Bro. W. C. Burton and I met a citizen of North Carolina, named Brown, who claims to be one of the mob that com­mitted the soul-destroying crime of shedding the innocent, unoffending blood of an anointed prophet of God. He says that he lived in Quincy, Illinois, and admits that it was a rich and productive country, but with all its charms he did not seem to have contentment, as he has been wandering from place to place ever since, as though in search of an asylum for a trou­bled conscience. He is now settled in one of the poorest of poor districts, where he is so situated that he can go no farther, and where he is scarcely able to earn a subsistence.

"During the extremely cold weather last winter, some of his little children were totally destitute of clothing. The neighbors, moved with compassion, col1ected some old clothes and neces­saries of life, and sent them.

"While we should be far, far from despising the poor for their poverty, I cannot help thinking of the saying of the Psalmist: ‘I have been young, and now am old: yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. '

"This man has not been wandering from cruel religious perse­cution, but, I think, to ease a restless and discontented mind.

"In Mount Airy, Surry Co., N.C., a man named Belton was pointed out to me who claims to have taken a part in the same vile, fiendish crime, and seems to have fared a similar or worse fate, having been taken with something like the palsy. He is dis­abled for work of any importance, which renders him a perfect object of pity and charity.

"These are the only men I ever saw who claim to be, or bear the name of being, connected with those who slew the great latter ­day Prophet and Patriarch, Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

"If these be fair examples of their kind, it certainly looks as though their sins were going before them to judgment."

Daniel Tyler, in his "History of the Mormon Battalion," in writing of San Diego says:

"Near the foreigners' burying ground resided a miserable specimen of humanity, who stole and begged from door to door. He was one of the most forlorn of human beings. He acknowl­edged to having been engaged in the Haun's Mill massacre, and begged our people to forgive him. He claimed to have been one of Fremont’s party, and said he had been among the Rocky Mountains for the last seven years."

The following statement is furnished by Brother Joel Parrish, of Centerville, Utah:

"In March, 1877, in company with Elder Charles F. Middleton, I passed through Carthage, Hancock County, Ill., en route for St. Louis. We tarried there a sufficient length of time to visit the Carthage jail, where our lamented Prophet and Patriarch, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, were murdered.

"We visited a Mr. Browning, who then owned and occupied, as his family residence, the old rock building, or jail, where the pris­oners referred to were confined. This building was no longer needed as a jail, a new and larger one having been built.

"Mr. Browning and lady entertained us over night, treated us very kindly, and stated that any of our Elders, passing through, would be welcome to be entertained by them.

"The room where the prisoners were murdered was, at that time, used as a parlor. We were taken therein and shown the arrangement of the room. The bullet hole in the door, made by the fatal ball that struck Hyrum Smith at the left side of the nose, had been filled with putty, but was to be seen. There being a carpet on the floor, we could not see the bloodstains where the Patriarch fell, but we were assured that they were still there. The stains of blood on the walls, also, were obscured, as the room had been whitewashed. The jail had been painted and kept in good repair.

“We were asked by Mr. Browning if we would like to see ‘the wickedest man in Illinois,’ having reference to the notorious Thos. C. Sharp, who was then publishing a paper in Carthage. We replied that we would not object to seeing him without an introduction or being under any necessity of shaking his hand. With this understanding, we went with Mr. Browning to Sharp’s office. Sharp was very courteous and polite, and showed signs of wishing to shake hands, a conjunction which we carefully avoided.

“A few years previous to this time, Sharp had been a candidate for office, and, while the canvass was in progress, his opponent said, in a public speech: ‘Sharp, you know if we had not sworn like h-ll for you, you would have been hung for the murder of the Smiths.’

“One of the Higbees (am not certain whether Chauncey or Francis) then resided fifteen or twenty miles east of Carthage. Mr. Browning stated that a gentleman in conversation with him asked if he ever felt any remorse of conscience for the part he took in the murder of the Smiths, to which Higbee replied: ‘If you think I have not, look at my child.’ The child referred to was then a young woman, grown, and, strange to behold, the entire left half of her face, on a line with the nose from the forehead to the chin, was one red mass, as if it were fresh blood, warm and dripping. The left arm and hand were also in the same condition. Higbee can see in his offspring the visible mark of God’s judgment for his great sin.”

Elder Henry G. Boyle says:

“While in California on a mission in the year 1855-56, and laboring on the Russian River, near where Healdsburg now stands, I often heard of an old mobocrat by the name of Kogan, or Cougan, who lived in that vicinity, and who boasted of having helped to murder Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage. He often sent a request to me to visit him and proffered to tell me all about the manner of the death of our Prophet. A few months afterwards I heard that Mr. Cougan was stricken with some very singular disease. So peculiar was his case, that many people came to see him. He grew worse and worse, and lay for three months seemingly at the point of death. He suffered excruciatingly, and constantly prayed to die. He also begged his friends to put an end to his suffering, by taking his life, and even sought an opportunity to commit suicide, but was prevented by those waiting upon him. Many physicians visited him, and declared they never saw anything like his case.   
"Many of' the people in the neighborhood said, 'If such is the end of those who kill the prophets and mob and drive the Saints, then may we be delivered from such a fearful and terrible calamity.”

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